I am especially thankful for everything we have accomplished together, and I'm eager to continue our work in 2015 to make our families and community even stronger for the future.
A few weeks ago, we had an important victory when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the state-wide ban on hydrofracking, the controversial process using a mix of chemicals and water to blast drill for underground natural gas supplies.
The governor’s decision is a victory for all of us fighting to prevent the contamination of our food and drinking water from this dangerous practice.
Now there is a bigger and more immediate threat to our communities in southern Queens and Rockaway, including the beaches and waterways that we depend on for recreation and economic development.
This threat is the Liberty LNG Port Ambrose project proposed for a site just off the coast of Jones Beach in Long Island. The plan is to build a deep water port to import unstable and dangerous liquefied natural gas (LNG) through our communities and waterways.
Port Ambrose was originally proposed for a site off the coast of New Jersey under the name Port Liberty. Due to the potential risks posed by this highly flammable material, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie stepped up and vetoed the project in 2011, soon after Hurricane Irene.
In 2013, the project was renamed Port Ambrose and the location moved closer to Long Island. At the time, I joined hundreds of opponents to the project to tell the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), the federal agencies in charge of oversight for the project, that I opposed Port Ambrose and that one public hearing for such an important issue was unacceptable.
A new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project was released on December 8, triggering a public comment period that ends on February 17. Once again, only two public hearings were scheduled: one at the JFK Airport Hilton on January 7 and one the following day in New Jersey.
Our families in southern Queens and Rockaway have a right to be heard. For this reason, I have once again called on MARAD and USCG to hold public hearings in all affected coastal communities in the region – not just one hearing per state.
LNG is highly unstable, flammable, and poses a high risk of explosion. Our first responders and the Coast Guard do not have the resources to face the increased risk of accident or even terrorist threat to the facility, which will be just miles from JFK Airport and the New York Harbor.
Port Ambrose may be planned for waters off the coast of Long Island, but we all know that the risks don’t stop at the Nassau County line.
I have urged Governor Cuomo to follow the lead of our neighbors in New Jersey and immediately veto the Port Ambrose project. The safety of our local families and the security of our waters are too valuable to give up for a project that will bring little benefit to our local economies.
In the two years since Sandy, we have worked tirelessly together to rebuild stronger than ever; the dangers posed by the Port Ambrose project are a threat to that progress. I will continue to fight for our recovery, but most importantly, to protect our communities and the waters we love from any and all potential risk.
Phillip Goldfeder represents the 23rd District in the Assembly.